Prognostic significance of serum microcystin in hepatocellular carcinoma has not been well investigated. The aim of the study was to reveal the relationship between serum microcystin-LR and prognosis in these patients. There were 650 early-stage hepatitis B-induced hepatocellular carcinoma patients, who were not affected by hepatitis C, cirrhosis, heavy drinking or excessive aflatoxin exposure. All of them underwent hepatectomy and were followed up for 5 years. Tumor relapse and overall death were recorded. Blood specimens were collected on admission and at the time of relapse. Serum levels of microcystin-LR and fluorescent oxidation products (FlOP_360, FlOP_320 and FlOP_400) were measured separately using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and fluorescence spectrometry. Multifactorial COX regression analysis suggested that serum microcystin-LR ≥ 0.97 ng/ml was associated with the increased risk of the tumor relapse (HR: 1.53, 95% CI: 1.35–1.77) and serum microcystin-LR ≥ 1.09 ng/ml was related to the higher risk of the overall death (HR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.35–1.84) in the follow-up period. Furthermore, there was a linear relationship between serum level of microcystin-LR and serum levels of FlOP_360, FlOP_320 and FlOP_400 (P = 0.001, P = 0.023, P = 0.047). Serum levels of these fluorescent oxidation products were also higher in the patients with tumor relapse (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P = 0.001) or overall death (P < 0.001, P = 0.001, P = 0.002) compared with the remaining patients. Serum microcystin-LR independently worsens the prognosis partly through promoting oxidative stress in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
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The study was supported by the Innovation Team Project of Renmin Hospital Affiliated to Hubei Medical College (201404) and the Free Exploration Fund Project of Hubei Medical College (2017).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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